Customer Reviews: MBA Admissions Strategy: From Profile Building to Essay Writing
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on September 16, 2011
This is an excellent book that provides tons of insights about the MBA admission process. The author's writing style is very informative. He always conveys a list of key points for everything that makes it easy to remember or refer to the most important information. Early on the author conveys the 22 qualities Bus Schools are looking for. Next, he maps them out elegantly within a four dimension vent diagram (academic, professional, communal, personal). He mentions the 5 objectives of admission officers. At the end of the book, he restates the main 12 key points (if you forget everything remember at least those 12 points).

There is no miracle to getting into a top MBA program. You need the grades (GPA 3.3+), the GMAT scores (690+), the successful working experience. Those are the essentials to make the first cut so your application is not immediately rejected. In essence, that's where the real work begins because there are a lot more candidates (3.3+/690+/strong work exp.) than there are available seats at the top programs.

The author guides you on how to differentiate yourself. It is all about deep introspective analysis (know thyself), and communicating clearly who you are, what is unique about you, how you fit the mission of the school, what are your life goals, why you need an MBA, why are you applying to this specific school. It is all about your communication proficiency in interviews and even more importantly in the essays.

More than half the book is about the essays. Excellent essays with a 690 on the GMAT make for a more competitive application than a 720 with poor essays. The author covers everything about the essay writing techniques including how to address the hardest questions such as writing about your failures. Everyone needs help tackling skillfully such tough writing challenges.

The book is also full of other insights besides essay writing. If you are a strong candidate, apply early even if you have an oversubscribed background (banking, consulting). That's because upon the first deadline, the admission officers are looking strictly for excellence. They will select 45% of the class from this first group. If you are not so strong, but have a background outside the oversubscribed one apply by the second deadline instead. At that time, the admission officers are looking for class balance. They will select another 45% from this second group. Thus, if you are a nonprofit manager you are not competing against consultants, but instead against other candidates with your similar background. Don't bother applying by the third deadline. By this time, the class is already 90% full. Also, don't take the GMAT more than twice. The schools see all the scores. A 700 on the 3d shot may not cut it. Apply to at least 3 but no more than 6 schools. An application is an extensive effort. You don't want to spread your energy to thin and also tire your references with too many requests.

The author provides a lot more information at his website that is mainly free. There, he actually shares with you even what are the class room experiences at different top schools with short videos. This blog also shares tons of resources on essay writings, the latest admission trends at specific schools, and much more. The author is truly a helpful and dedicated expert on this subject.
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on March 1, 2006
I applied to Darden using another reference and online resources before I found "MBA Admissions Strategy". I was blown away by the insight that permeates each chapter, and I corrected many

mistakes on my HBS app. I do not know what Gordon's background is, but he clearly knows exactly what goes on behind the scenes at adcom. He even explains what kind of people end up on the adcom and how to tailor your message to them.

So, I was waitlisted at Darden and now I have an interview at

Harvard. Wow! Can't argue with results like that. It was a lot of work but this book was my sole guide in transforming my essays. I am not an excellent writer but I am very pleased with the results. I would never try to apply to an MBA program without this book.
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on August 16, 2007
I had a technically perfect, reasonable and ambitious Statement of Purpose and solid work experience. However, I wanted to be sure that it was a winning essay and turned to Avi for insight about it. After reading Avi's advice, it was obvious that my long-term goal of becoming a VP or Worldwide Marketing, while ambitious, was not adventurous or striking enough to secure my admission into an MBA program.

Thanks to Avi, I reset my essay (and career) strategy to something that made me nervous yet more excited and confident that my Statement of Purpose would standout when reviewed by the MBA Admissions Board. I don't want to give away my competitive strategy, but I believe Avi's book and valuable experience will enable you to prepare your own striking strategy, possibly rethink your career goals, and is a "must read" before applying to any college. I landed in the MBA program that I really wanted and trust that you will be successful as well.
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on December 26, 2007
MUST HAVE BOOK. By far the best book on the subject.

Even if you have already purchased Richard Montauk book or any other MBA consulting book, I still advise that you buy and read this book.

If you have not purchased any book yet, I strongly recommend you to start with this book.

If you are targeting top 15 MBA programs, reading this book will be the best thing you could do to improve your chances.

Pros -
1) Very structured approach. It begins with helping you profile yourself.
2) No nonsense material. Very brief, succinct and to the point.
3) It leaves the obvious clutter out. Author does not repeat himself. I think this is the biggest plus of this book. There are many top sellers (no names), which are too thick at the expense of being repetitive.
3) Comprehensive.
4) Refined. Polished.

Cons -
1) Addition of some sample essays would be a very useful.
2) Schools specific research and advise will be useful too. I notice that most of the MBA admissions book in the market lack this type of material.
3) Part time program specific advise.
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on March 15, 2012
A couple of years ago, this book helped me get admission offers at 3 Top-15 business schools, and a spot on the waiting list for a fourth school. I have successfully used the strategies talked about in this book not only during the MBA admissions process, but also as tools to prepare for behavioral interviews during my business school days. This is quite possibly one of the better investments I have made in my professional career, and I heartily recommend it to anyone thinking of an MBA.
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on September 29, 2012
When applying to top business schools, I went looking for a comprehensive guide that would help walk me through the process and wouldn't cost me $6000 like an admissions consultant but would also assist in telling me what was important and what wasn't important in writing my applications. Most of the MBA books I viewed had 5 stars, and so picking one at random, I selected this book.

Much of the book is written too generally to be of practical use when writing an application. If you are starting at square 0, not knowing your skills, what interests you, or what you're good at, this may be useful. But the mapping is far too general for someone to pick up immediately and not practically applicable to the actual application. The author seemed to favor brevity instead of the hand holding that may be more necessary for the unusual process of applying to business school.

My best resource ended up being online blogs and admissions sites (Stacy Blackman, mbaMission, Poets and Quants) to fill the gaps left by the book. Friends were invaluable, mostly in suggesting what not to worry about. Applications are large, imposing, and stressful, and this book does not provide a solid balance of what to focus on. Suggestions like being brief, but not too brief; descriptive, but not too much so; personal but not overly, are all obvious. Unless that is the type of suggestion you need, I strongly suggest looking elsewhere.
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on July 11, 2014
Great for profiling and essays / interviews. Just what I need to assist me with my applications. Cannot speak to the level of success yet because I havent submitted applications, but I can say with confidence that I've already absorbed a ton of helpful knowledge that I wouldnt have otherwise wothout this book.
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on December 20, 2008
I have bought a LOT of MBA books, pretty everything you can think about, but I have never written a review for any one of them. I honestly felt guilty not to write one for this book. That should just give you an idea of how good this book is. This is the book that you WANT to read. Most people who give review don't mention what I consider the single most important part of this book: Whoever you are or whatever you have done, if you want to go to b-school, you can. As others have pointed out, if this book included sample essays and the author's critiques, it would have been THE MBA book.
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on April 29, 2012
I was applying for the Executive MBA program at UCLA (top 5 school) and this book helped me to write my essays and learn to market myself in the way that admission boards want to hear about me. It changed the way I looked at essays and the interviews. And the point of this review is results, well, I got into UCLA and was able to use the resources from this book to help me overcome poor undergraduate grades to get in on my first admission attempt. HIGHLY recommend.
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on January 10, 2013
I read two other MBA admissions books plus several combo GMAT prep / MBA admissions books, and this book was the best of the bunch (although Richard Montauk's book is a close second). This is not an easy read! To maximize this book's value, you need to follow Avi's step-by-step guide to building your profile. Truthfully, I almost threw the book away a few times in frustration. I am glad that I didn't.

The profile building section is probably the most valuable part thanks to Avi's insight. The book guides you through 11 different aspects of your profile that will be critically analyzed by MBA admissions offices. It helps you not only to remember and retell your experiences, but also to ANALYZE those experiences. Avi teaches you how to weave these stories and your analysis of these events into a compelling and, more importantly, differentiated profile. While other books attempt to do the same, none come close to the depth and sophistication of this book.

After building your profile, the book guides you through answering common essay archetypes. It also provides broader essay advice. The "mission goals vs. functional goals" advice on pg. 103 really transformed my application. I totally rewrote one of my goals essay after reading that section and am 100% certain that my goals essay would have been boring and uninspiring had I not followed this advice. I will say that the essay section seemed to miss a few essay archetypes, and really should be read along with Montauk's book.

Thanks to this book, I was admitted to a top 10 program (Haas). This book really challenged me and in the process helped me create a very unique profile and compelling "pitch" to admissions offices. Avi's book was key to my success and I highly recommend it to fellow applicants.
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